With the Skullcandy Grind, the US company has added these good-sounding, bass-driven Bluetooth earphones to its range, they amplify external noise when required and feature Spotify integration. These wireless in-ears can be operated both by voice command and with conventional buttons, while the app allows settings for individual earpieces and sound.
At first, the wearing position of the Skullcandy Grind seems a little unusual, as the oval-shaped housing surfaces are not level but horizontally angled. However, the fit is by no means uncomfortable, and it is quite stable, so there is sufficient support for an occasional run. Another positive point is the relatively low weight of these in-ears of 5.5 grams per side, while the IP55 dust- and water-resistant finish means they can be used outdoors. However, a disadvantage of the design is that the earpieces noticeably protrude beyond the ear and are therefore difficult to use when wearing a hat.
In basic mode, the Skullcandy Grind offer a listening time of just under eight hours at high volume, with the runtime shortening to about six and a half hours when transparency mode is used. In addition, these in-ears can be fully charged three times in their case and once more with a reserve capacity of two hours, so that the total runtime is over 33 hours in standard mode and 28 hours in ambient mode. At the same time, both the earphones and the case are fast-chargeable via the USB-C port. While these in-ears can be used for up to two hours and 50 minutes after a ten-minute power supply, the case provides a reserve for just over three hours. The batteries can be refilled very quickly, with it only taking 30 minutes for the earphones to be fully charged. The case’s charge level indicator signals after just 70 minutes that the battery reserve has been restored.
Pairing the Skullcandy Grind, which supports Bluetooth standard 5.2 and single-sided use in single mode, can be done by removing them from the case. This turns the system on and automatically puts it into pairing mode, while putting the headphones back into the charger turns them off. It is also possible to switch the system on and off manually via the buttons. However, problems with Bluetooth stability were noticed with the current firmware version 4.6.1: Although ranges of between eight and ten metres were possible within an urban environment, the wireless link proved to be susceptible to dropouts after only three or four metres, which might restrict freedom of movement in everyday use. Also, the wireless connection regularly broke off after about 60 minutes when used with various iOS devices, so it became necessary to pair the headphones again. The manufacturer needs to resolve this issue in order with a firmware update to fix these Bluetooth problems.
The remote buttons on the headphones can be used to control basic functions such as playback and volume or to answer and end calls. The assignment of controls can be individually adjusted via the app, and this works well. This makes it possible to activate the ambient mode, call up a voice assistant or skip back and forth between tracks. Spotify can also be used at the touch of a button, as well as the built-in Listening function, which allows content to be shared and listened to together. Alternatively, thanks to the Skull-iQ technology, operation can be carried out via voice control; this responds without delay and worked flawlessly in a less crowded environment. With iOS devices, however, the app must be open in order to use voice commands.
The Skullcandy Grind app (Android and iOS) is neatly organised, and as well as button assignment, it includes an EQ for sound control. There are three pre-configured modes – “Music”, “Podcast” and “Movie” – as well as the possibility of making customised settings. Voice control and the ambient mode can be activated or deactivated, firmware updates can be carried out, and a tracking function can be set up via the Tile app to find earphones if they are lost. If you like to take selfies or film with your smartphone, you also have the option of configuring the buttons on the in-ears as a shutter release.
Speech intelligibility in phone calls
In a quiet environment, the Skullcandy Grind are perfect for making phone calls, as both sides of the conversation were easy to understand and were presented quite naturally. However, louder ambient noises were not noticeably attenuated and were perceived by the caller on the other end of the line and this limited the intelligibility of one’s own voice.
The Skullcandy Grind do not offer high-quality audio codecs such as aptX or the AAC format, so you have to make do with Bluetooth standard SBC. This can have a negative effect on movies and mobile games due to the rather high latency, meaning there is a noticeable offset between the picture and the sound.
In order to better perceive the environment, especially during outdoor activities, the transparency mode serves to amplify outside noises via the microphones. This worked quite convincingly, although a distinct background noise had to be tolerated. Nevertheless, with paused playback, announcements on a station platform were understandable without having to take out the earpieces, and it was possible to communicate with fellow passengers without any problems.
The powerful tuning of the Skullcandy Grind seemed coherent and had basic warmth as well as a tidy sound image that didn’t seem at all cramped. The bass reproduction was quite deep and had substance even in the lower registers, without sounding bulky or overloaded. On the contrary, the low frequencies sounded rich, but at the same time tight and defined, which made for a lot of listening pleasure across genres. The midrange succeeded in bringing out voices with appealing clarity as well as details such as picking noises, while assertiveness was demonstrated during mobile use. However, the reproduction did not seem strained or aggressive, as there was a pleasant, harmonious basic character. Even the high frequencies were not restrained, but lively and energetic, which gave a fresh and lively impression. Only at high volume levels, which these headphones are quite capable of, could the upper regions be perceived as being a little harsh. However, there was no tendency towards unpleasant sharpness or harshness.
The Skullcandy Grind are distinguished by a good price-sound ratio, even if high-quality audio codecs are not included. These weatherproof True Wireless in-ears also score points with successful app integration and fast-charging batteries for the earpieces and case. The voice control works convincingly in less busy environments, and this also applies to the intelligibility of one’s own voice when making phone calls. However, there are some limitations at the time of release due to problems with Bluetooth stability, but these could be remedied with the help of a firmware update.
- Water and dust resistant according to IP55
- Handset and case with quick charge function
- Voice control (except for busier environment)
- Handset and sound settings via app
- Speech intelligibility during phone calls (in quiet surroundings)
- Low Bluetooth stability (firmware version 4.6.1)
- No support for high-quality audio codecs
- Stronger background noise in ambient mode
- Ear couplingIn-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)20 - 20.000 Hz
- Impedance±15%: 22 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL)101 dB ±3 dB
- Weight without cable5,5 g each, case: 53 g
What's in the box
- Eartips in three sizes (S/M/L)
- USB-C to USB-A charging cable
- Charging case
- BT codecs: SBC
- BT version: 5.2